The DEA Isn’t Making CBD Oil Illegal — Yet

‘People need to understand that there are federal laws that the DEA cannot bypass,’ a hemp industry professional tells MintPress News.
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    AUSTIN, Texas — An administrative change by the Drug Enforcement Administration has left users of CBD oil, a popular tincture derived from agricultural hemp, fearful that they could lose access to this vital health remedy.

    CBD oil is currently considered legal in all 50 states, and agricultural hemp, a non-psychoactive variety of the cannabis plant from which CBD oil is extracted, is legally grown in many states. While scientific research into its benefits is just beginning, preliminary results show that CBD oil can benefit conditions ranging from epilepsy to chronic pain.

    But on Dec. 14, the DEA added a notice to the Federal Register that quietly informed the public that it had established “a new drug code for marihuana extract.” The DEA’s argument is that the agency is entitled to regulate CBD oil because all extracts contain trace amounts of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis which remains illegal at the federal level.



    Establishing this new drug code is, effectively, the first step toward classifying CBD oil alongside cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act. This act classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance, alongside drugs like heroin which are considered to have no practical medical benefit.

    However, legal experts and advocates for hemp doubt that the DEA has the mandate to easily ban CBD oil.

    Cannabidiol3Dan

    Cannabidiol’s (CBD) 3D molecular structure in 3D animated ball and stick format.

    “They’re positioning themselves to potentially overstep their boundaries,” said John Ryan,  founder and director of Ananda Hemp, in an interview with MintPress News.

    A subsidiary of the Australian hemp company EcoFibre Industries, Ananda Hemp produces CBD oil from the hundreds of acres of hemp the company grows in Kentucky and Tennessee.

    Ryan stressed that CBD oil is not going to “vanish overnight.” He continued:

    “People need to understand that there are federal laws that the DEA cannot bypass. If they do, they can expect legal challenges from the industry.”

    While Ryan expressed serious concerns about the DEA’s move, he said he believes the agency would struggle to make hemp illegal under current laws, thanks to multiple protections put in place by Congress. Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation in the United States as part of five-year, state-regulated pilot programs. Subsequent additions to the 2015 and 2016 Congressional Appropriations Act prohibited the DEA from going after the products produced under these pilot programs.

    Ryan added that these appropriations acts “clearly contain language that permits the interstate transit and commerce of these products under the guise that it’s initial market research under the five-year pilot program.”

    Indeed, the Denver-based Hoban Law Firm has already promised to challenge the DEA if it tried to ban CBD. On Thursday, Robert Hoban, the firm’s managing partner, called the new classification “an invalid rule” in an interview with Fox 31 Denver. He continued:

    “At the end of the day, the DEA needs to sit down, read the Controlled Substances Act, read the farm bill and understand that what they’re saying has practical implications on commerce and on patients around this country. That’s not weight they should throw around so lightly.”

    Speaking to MintPress, Ryan was critical of some media outlets for jumping to conclusions about the DEA ruling, which he said creates unnecessary fear among CBD oil users.

    For example, Leafly, a popular cannabis news and information website, declared on Dec. 14, “New DEA Rule Says CBD Oil is Really, Truly, No-Joke Illegal.”

    “Why don’t we focus more on letting the public know that they are protected?” asked Ryan.

    The DEA’s threat against CBD oil is just the latest controversial move by the agency to target over-the-counter herbal remedies. In August, the DEA threatened to ban kratom, a popular treatment for both chronic pain and the withdrawal symptoms caused by addiction to opioid painkillers, only to suspend their efforts amid a wave of popular protest.

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    • Joe Bailey

      This is a little misleading. People need to understand that all cannabis and hemp derived CBD is 100% illegal under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), period. The exception for hemp derived CBD is a pretty narrow set of requirements that need to be met in order to be considered exempt from the CSA. Merely making or importing hemp derived CBD does NOT MAKE IT LEGAL. I also question putting out any kind of press release telling people “this is legal” when it is not clear whatsoever what that Federal Register update will result in, good or bad (but assume it will be bad).

      A part of this that is kind of overlooked is this…. if your hemp CBD operation doesn’t fit the bill, you fall under the draconian 280e tax code that plagues cannabis (since you would be Schedule 1 just like cannabis), and that would likely be devastating for almost all CBD companies as they (I assume) haven’t set up their businesses to minimize the impact of 280e, nor do they understand the devastating effect of this particular tax code.

      Again, hemp derived CBD is 100% on the Controlled Substance Act listing, and only falls under an exception if you meet certain rules. If I were any of you folks dealing in CBD, I would be contacting my attorney to make sure I am rock solid before going out and touting that you’ve got this figured out, because **new release**, the people MAKING the rules don’t have it figured out. I’ve watched acres of hemp get slashed and burned for plenty of silly reasons, none of them being near as serious as the CSA.

      Disclaimer: While cannabis is my business, I am not an attorney, and I am not YOUR attorney, none of this is legal advice, all illustrative, and none of the above should be relied upon in any capacity for any legal or tax purposes whatsoever.

      • Good comment, Joe. This story has been everywhere lately, and the people writing about it rarely have any insight.

    • TheCogitator

      Those fools at the DEA can’t even spell it right.The government uses a spelling that no one else does.

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    • Montresor

      If it’s not illegal, where can you buy it? My dog is having seizures from a possible tumor on her pancreas. I’m desperate.

      • RedHeadRita

        I buy mine from http://www.Ogdiggs.com

      • jo6pac

        When buying try to find cold pressed it better all round.

      • CA

        Montresor if you live in the states where marijuana is legalized then do some research on the Medical shops where you live then you will Te

    • ACADIA HEMP

      As a small business in the Hemp Industry, we have been entrenched in this for a couple weeks and it seems, at times, the landscape is completely devoid of facts. Thank you for the thoughtful explanation on this confusing issue. Please read our Official Statement on the issue and feel free to share: http://www.acadiahemp.com/single-post/2016/12/27/CBD-Oil-The-DEAs-Final-Rule-Offers-A-Reality-Check

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    • Thom Prentice

      Why is John Ryan, founder and director of Ananda Hemp, doing the ‘splainin’ for the DEA? LET TYE DEA DO IT!

      RE: “People need to understand that there are federal laws that the DEA cannot bypass. If they do, they can expect legal challenges from the industry.”

      • Zedster

        Probably because the DEA will not talk to Kit and Mint Press. Plus that I, for one, probably would not believe a word they say. Unless they say “Well, big pharma really wants CBD illegal so we are helping them out”. You think they will tell you the real truth?

      • ACADIA HEMP

        Ryan isn’t explaining anything on behalf of the DEA… He is factually stating that the DEA must adhere to federal laws and if they “overstep their boundaries” they will be held accountable by businesses, like ours and theirs. He expressed concerns about the DEA’s move but clearly understands that Congress has put in place protections for Hemp, and any part of such plant, that will make it difficult for the DEA to target Hemp businesses without consequence. He was critical of the DEA while remaining factual.

        • Hoban in Rolling Stone:
          http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/inside-deas-ban-on-marijuana-extracts-w457857
          “We have a client who makes a hemp beer – it was recently approved by the federal government as an approved formula, and this was reversed within weeks,” Hoban says. “They said, ‘Well, it has CBD in it and CBD has a DEA drug code number, so therefore it must be illegal.'” And that’s not the only client of Hoban’s that’s suffering.
          “We’re seeing online and retail stores that sell these products saying, ‘These things have to be off the shelves by January 14th,'” he says. “That’s interrupting commerce.”

          Businesses aren’t making these decisions based on the Leafly story. Facts are facts. Someone needs to get an injunction and extend that Friday the 13th deadline before businesses and patients suffer more.

          • ACADIA HEMP

            Yes, we read that and commented below that story as well. It’s clear the DEA overreaches consistently and Hoban explains that and before that quote he talks at length about all the reasons why it’s believed that Hemp-derived CBD remains legal. When the DEA overreaches in violation of federal law, there will be lawsuits by businesses like ours and anyone else effected. There are only three things we are certain of, 1) Hemp derived CBD remains legal, 2) marijuana derived CBD is not legal at the federal level and 3) the DEA isnt certain of either of those certainties which is certainly causing a lot of, well, uncertainty.

            • So we agree that it’s a good thing the industry was notified of this development as early as possible, giving those potentially affected as much time as possible to prepare by the deadline. Because who knows what might happen when this change takes effect? Anyone with a fiduciary responsibiliy to stakeholders or investors is obliged to be honest with them about the industry entering uncertain times. The sky might not be falling, but it also might be and just hasn’t landed on us quite yet.

              • ACADIA HEMP

                The new code (7350) becomes effective on January 13th and “Entities registered to handle marihuana (under drug code 7360) that also handle marihuana extracts, will need to apply to modify their registrations to add the new drug code 7350 to their existing DEA registrations and procure quotas specifically for drug code 7350 each year.” This is directly from the DEA’s Final Rule Summary, and it continues, “This rule establishes a new drug code for marihuana extracts. DEA already registers persons handling marihuana extracts but within another already-established drug code. Thus, persons who handle these marihuana extracts have already met DEA’s registration, security, and other statutory and regulatory requirements. The only direct effect to registrants who handle marihuana extracts will be the requirement to add the new drug code to their registration.” One would hope that any already registered company effected by a deadline to “apply to modify their registrations to add the new drug code… to their existing DEA registrations…” would inform their stakeholders.

                The bigger point though is that any deadline imposed doesn’t appear to impact businesses offering hemp-derived CBD Oil. It’s for registered marijuana extract entities to update their code annually with the DEA. And, yes, the sky may not have fallen on us yet but we are hyper-aware that it’s possible, if not probable with a new administration less than a month away.

    • Thom Prentice

      Why is John Ryan, founder and director of Ananda Hemp,

      A subsidiary of the Australian hemp company EcoFibre Industries, Ananda Hemp produces CBD oil from the hundreds of acres of hemp the company grows in Kentucky and Tennessee.

      RE: “People need to understand that there are federal laws that the DEA cannot bypass. If they do, they can expect legal challenges from the industry.”